Tapestry Story

It’s as if every row ends with a cliffhanger, and I want to see what will happen next. I know the end of the story, but I’m still eager to see how it plays out. This is how I experience tapestry weaving. I linger here as long as I can. When I do walk away from the loom, I’m already anticipating the next time I get to do this.

Butterfly wing. This second butterfly image shows more detail than the first butterfly image on this warp (which is now beginning to touch the cloth beam).
Cart with balls of wool yarn sits beside the loom for making new yarn butterflies as I go.

I use a cartoon of reduced size as a color reference for making butterflies. A black-and-white version shows me value contrasts. I twist strands of yarn together to find a specific hue and value. Each new butterfly becomes integral to the cliffhanger story. At the loom, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of this story.

I combine various wool yarns until I find the right combination for the color I want to add to the tapestry. The thickness of each bundle of strands for a butterfly is approximately equivalent to the thickness of 4 strands of Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool yarn.
Every row brings new excitement.
Reduced-size cartoon helps me find the needed hue (color) and intensity (relative brightness or dullness) for yarn butterflies. The black-and-white version helps me see the value (range of light to dark as seen on a gray scale) in comparison to neighboring values.

When I pray, my thoughts are fully engaged in the details of life. Prayer answers our heavenly Father’s invitation to come and be alone with him. He listens as we talk to him about our life’s cliffhangers. Prayer is so much more than making requests. It’s about consulting with our Father to gain his heavenly point of view for the tapestry he is creating. When we see the strands come together just so, we know our life’s story is in the Grand Weaver’s hands.

May your cliffhangers have happy endings.

Your friend,
Karen

Tapestry Cartoon – Zoom In

For this second butterfly sample I am zooming way in, to expose more detail of the delicate stained-glass wing. Transforming the photograph into a weaveable cartoon is a fascinating task in itself. In real life, when do we ever get this close a look at the intricacy of the fluttering wing?

Butterfly wing detail for a tapestry.
Color rows of black, green, yellow, and gold wool weft are woven in a rosepath pattern to frame the beginning of the tapestry. My “go-by” is a smaller replica of the cartoon that is under the warp.

The primary reason for these butterfly samples is for me to gain a better understanding of how the details of the cartoon image relate to the sett of the warp on the loom. My goal is to thoroughly explore this style of tapestry. So, I aim to become adept in creating well-suited cartoons.

You can see the tapestry cartoon under the warp.
In progress. You can see the cartoon under the warp.

Let’s zoom in to the familiar scene of baby Jesus generations ago. The child born in a Bethlehem stable drew the attention of lowly shepherds, not impressive celebrities. Announced by angels, not by stately heralds. The detail clearly depicts something out of the ordinary: There is a kingdom that is not of this world. A King who shows up, not cloaked in royalty, but wrapped in the cloth on hand. What an intricate plan it is that a babe named Jesus would become our Savior King! And, that he transforms the image of those whose hearts invite him in.

May you examine the Christmas story in detail.

Looking forward to Christmas,
Karen

Be Weave-Able

I call her the ”Rain Girl.” She comes from an illustration in a very old children’s book on our bookshelf. The small tapestry is cute. But with its many slits and single warp wrappings, it falls short of what it could be. I compromised best practices to make it work.

New small tapestry - Rain Girl.
Small tapestry gets its start on a camping trip. Paint stir stick holds the cartoon in place under the warp.
Weaving a small tapestry from the back.
Weaving from the back. Long car rides are good for portable tapestry weaving.
Cartoon is not going to work for this small tapestry.
Checking the cartoon again.
Small tapestry almost finished. Rain Girl.
Finishing up the weaving of Rain Girl just before pulling back into our driveway after a long trip.

The main fault is with the cartoon. It isn’t weave-able. The image is too small for this sett. There must be a better way to weave this image.

Mounting a small tapestry on foam core board covered with flannel and linen.
Hems are stitched down. 1/2″ foam core board is covered with a layer of cotton flannel, and then natural colored linen.
Mounted small tapestry. Rain Girl.
Rain Girl, first version.

I am starting over with a whole new cartoon! I have now learned that Affinity Designer (computer graphics software) gives me the ability to create vertical parallel lines equivalent to my sett. With those lines in view I can see exactly how each part of the cartoon fits the warp spacing. I am turning the image on its side and enlarging it, and then, cropping to size. This cartoon is going to be weave-able.

Affinity Designer to create a new tapestry cartoon.
Screen shot from Affinity Designer. Image from book illustration is positioned on its side, enlarged, and cropped. View shows vertical lines that match the sett for the tapestry.
Creating a new tapestry cartoon in Affinity Designer.
New Rain Girl cartoon is ready for printing.

All of us have gone our own way. We insistently follow our own cartoon, compromising best practices, while struggling to make it work. There is a better way. Jesus Christ gave himself so that the Grand Weaver’s cartoon could be written on our hearts. In his hands we become his beloved tapestry. Be weave-able.

May your cartoon be just right.

Hopeful,
Karen

Tapestry that Tries to Copy

The jumble of yarn looks like a random play of colors. But if you look a little closer, and push the yarn butterflies out of the way, you can tell that the color choices are deliberate. You see only a hint of the image, though, until you look through the back end of the monocular, or step up on the step stool to have a look from up above the weaving. That’s when you get an overview of what’s on the loom.

New tapestry project.
Yarn butterflies each have a mix of wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö yarn.
Weaving a new tapestry on the floor loom.
The mix of colors in each yarn butterfly is a deliberate selection for the specific hues, values, and intensities I want to portray.
Tapestry of a butterfly wing.
View from my seat on the loom bench.

This warp is a study project. I want to test some tapestry techniques to help me develop my style. I made the cartoon by cropping and enlarging a photograph I took years ago. The butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis! The subject for my study: the butterfly’s intricate wing.

Tapestry on the floor loom, and how to view it.
Peering through the *wrong* end of the monocular gives me a distant view of the tapestry in progress.
Get a view from higher up to get a better perspective on life.
I stand on a stepstool near the loom to get an even broader view of the tapestry from a distance. This perspective shows me how effective my yarn selections are (or are not) for the image I want to create.
Intricate butterfly wing - subject for tapestry study.
Cartoon in a reduced size helps me see the color distinctions. Photo in black and white helps me see value contrasts.

Who designed the butterfly wing? A stained-glass artist may conceive it. A tapestry weaver may copy it. A silk dyer may imagine it. But only our Creator could bring it to life. God makes himself known. Push the obstacles out of the way. Look for design. Gain a higher perspective. With each woven row, the image becomes more and more clear. When the butterfly wing begins to flutter you know you are witnessing something from the mind of God.

May you see what is hidden.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Step Back to See Your Tapestry Details

The contours of the face are more evident now that the lips are in place. Every cartoon line requires decisions. Shift the color at this warp end?…or, one over? Does this butterfly have too much pink?…maybe it needs more pink? The portrait image happens almost invisibly, thread by thread.

Four-shaft tapestry.
Tapestry detail.
Tapestry portrait.
Tapestry portrait.

I step back often so I can see what I am weaving. Up close, the details are obscure. I step up on the loom bench (very carefully, holding on to the top of the loom) and look through the back end of my binoculars. A distant view of the tapestry comes into focus. It’s encouraging! I can clearly see that the details are working out.

Tapestry portrait in progress.
View from a distance.
Portrait tapestry in progress.
Looking through the back end of the binoculars gives a distant view. I’m looking for distinct lines of contrast and smooth transitions.

We may be too close to our own circumstances to see the details clearly. We make decision after decision, and we hope against hope that things will turn out okay. How can we know what is right? Step away to pray. Slip away with the Lord Jesus to get His view on things. Only when we consult a higher view can we see the bigger tapestry that the Grand Weaver is creating. Prayer, as a conversation with the Lord, helps us see that the details are working out according to his purpose.

May your details become clear.

With purpose,
Karen